The LG V40 ThinQ checks off all the boxes for a 2018 flagship. And while five cameras might seem like overkill, they let you capture almost any conceivable photo… for a price.
LG just took the smartphone camera wars to the next level. While the iPhone XS and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 each have three cameras, the LG V40 ThinQ has five, three on the back and two on the front.
With an emphasis on photography, the V40 is designed for creators and everyday users alike. It includes new features like Cine Shot, which lets you make a boomerang-style photo, but with only part of the photo in motion.
As for the hardware, it’s in line with other flagship handsets: a quad-core processor, 64GB of storage, and a 6.4-inch OLED display. The design doesn’t stray too far from previous LG devices like the G7 or V35.
The V40 is a step forward for LG. But the phone still has to compete with the Pixel 3, which Google should reveal next week, the iPhone XS and XS Max, and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9.
Like early leaks suggested, LG put five cameras on the V40. You’re probably wondering why. On paper, it seems like a desperate way to stand out, but to my surprise, in some cases, more cameras might be better.
A standard 12-megapixel camera, a super wide angle 16-megapixel camera, and a telephoto 12-megapixel camera are all on the back. In practice, this means you can get a standard shot, quickly shoot a city skyline, or zoom in to get a detailed close-up as the phone switches between lenses. Shooting in the default auto mode (what most folks will do) usually results in a beautiful image, one that is on par with the iPhone and Samsung devices. I found the color reproduction to be generally accurate.
Images can sometimes appear distorted when zooming in. It’s most apparent with the telephoto lens — a bit disappointing considering the 2x optical zoom.
This comes down to capturing the detail of any given image. For instance, there’s a lot going on in this shot of a street corner in NYC’s Union Square, from the different colored buildings, cars passing by, forms of nature, and people. In the default auto mode, this can be a lot for the lens to figure out, but I think overall it manages to take a nice shot. LG might want to update how its processing works as software might be doing too much.
Triple Shot is meant to help you capture a photo in every conceivable way with auto presets. As you might think, it takes a photo with each of the three cameras in rapid succession.
The problem? It happens kind of slowly. You’ll hear the shutters click three times and then it begins to process. By default, the device will automatically stitch together a six-second video that transitions through the three shots. However, this processing takes a few seconds and slows down the ability to quickly take a photo.
You can also make cinemagraphs — basically, a GIF where only part of the image moves — through CineShot. It’s found alongside other modes and you’ll even get a splash screen suggesting it when first opening the camera app. It is fun, but I’m not entirely sold on the experience. A big letdown is having to choose what will be in motion before doing anything else, since the cinemagraph saves as a locked MP4. Fingers crossed this gets fixed via a software update.
The other two cameras are on the front: a standard 8-megapixel lens and a wide-angle 5-megapixel lens. Those are in line with other front-facing cameras, but I wouldn’t recommend the front-facing portrait mode.
When I tried it, the LG V40 had trouble finding the area that should be in focus. As you can see above, it chopped off part of my face. Lastly, there isn’t much of a difference between the standard and wide-angle — one just has a little more breathing room above and below your head.
A notch and a headphone jack
The phone is still impressively thin at just 0.3 inches and weighs in at 5.96-ounces. So, while there is a big 6.4-inch display, the slim bezels and sleek build make it easy to weld a phone of this size.
LG is sticking with a glass and aluminum build for the V40 that comes in Aurora Black or Moroccan Blue. With any glass design, the V40 ThinQ will be a fingerprint magnet, but the darker colors do a better job of hiding smudges. The V40 has a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for durability and water resistance for thirty minutes in up to 4.9 feet of water. Just be sure to let the phone dry out before plugging it in for a charge.
The phone is still impressively thin at just 0.3 inches thick and weighs 5.96 ounces. So, while there is a big 6.4-inch display, the slim bezels and sleek build make it easy to weld a phone of this size.
There is still a small “chin” on the bottom of the device. So, sure, the front isn’t all display, but LG did a good job of balancing the screen. The screen ratios on the previous-generation V35 were a bit off, but the V40 is more symmetrical and factors in the chin at the bottom. Simply, it’s a much more comfortable device to hold and use. Holding the V40 is on par with the iPhone XS Max, but it feels much lighter in hand.
A power button lives on the left side, though you can also wake up the device with the back-facing fingerprint sensor or by knocking on the screen. The volume rocker and dedicated button for the Google Assistant are on the left-hand side. It’s a pretty standard setup, but gives you choice in how to unlock the phone.
A sharp display
The 6.4-inch display is a QuadHD+ OLED panel with a 3,120 x 1,440 display with 636 pixels per inch. It’s balanced better than the V35 ThinQ with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio that factors in for the chin on the bottom. LG has created a vibrant and sharp display that produces accurate colors. Images shot with the cameras on the device look quite lovely and have correct colors. Like other phones that use OLED, this one gets pretty bright — something you definitely want when using the device in direct sunlight.
To no surprise, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with 6GB of RAM powers the LG V40. It has a customized version of Android 8.1 Oreo with an LG user interface on top, which reminds me a bit of iOS.
I was testing near-final software minus the carrier bloatware. It performed well, and I didn’t experience any real hiccups with the device. It is smooth to use and navigate in between apps. Unlocking with my face or a fingerprint was almost immediate.
LG doesn’t really pre-load the device with random stuff, although this may change depending on your carrier (looking at you Verizon). I’m also a big fan of the always-on display and the customizations LG has built-in.
The V40 faired well on Geekbench with a 2,229 single-core and 7,235 multi-core score. This is on par with other Snapdragon 845 devices (like the Galaxy Note 9) and shows that LG has taken time to optimize software and hardware. I tried to push the V40 to its limits with daily productivity use ranging from email, texting, photography, phone calls, and streaming. I also tried out several games of Fortnite, and while it took a toll on the battery, I didn’t experience any lag or crashes with it.
A 3,300mAh battery falls behind other recent phones, but through optimization it can last quite some time. I easily got a full day of use, and on days with a few games of Fortnite and a hefty amount of streaming, the battery drained a bit more. Luckily, the V40 supports wireless charging, and the included brick can handle Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 for fast charging.
A flagship with a purpose
LG’s V40 ThinQ is an excellent phone and solves the identity crisis of a flagship device by giving it a standout feature. It’s not just a well-rounded phone for 2018, but the three main cameras might be setting a new standard.
While the cameras give you the ability to get more types of shots, the processing can sometimes get in the way. Cine Shot will let you make visually captivating images, but I’m not sure how long the honeymoon will last with this feature.
LG doesn’t have an iPhone killer here. Instead, if you want an Android device with a camera that can capture what other phones miss, the V40 ThinQ might be for you. It stacks up and checks off the boxes with fast performance, a vibrant display, and good battery life. So, if you can handle the $899.99 starting price, it might be your next phone.